Sunday, April 17, 2011

Film Recommendation of the Week...

Road to the Big Leagues
Release date April 7, 2009.
Running time 54 minutes.
Spanish w/English subtitles.

Since we are on the subject of baseball in the Dominican Republic, here is an interesting look into that very world. The first film is a documentary that gives the viewer a glimpse into almost every aspect of the game as a business-

1) Interviews with successful major league players Vladamir Guerrero and David Ortiz.

2) An up-and-coming prospect excited about finally signing with a major league club.

3) An aspiring young player on the streets of San Pedro de Macoris, the town that has sent more players to the major leagues than any other in the DR.

4) A look at the myriad of baseball academies set up by major leagues that dot the Dominican landscape.

5) A player forced out of the game due to fraud committed by his handlers who now has to make it through life without baseball.

Release date April 3, 2009.
Running time 2 hours.
English and Spanish w/English subtitles.

The second film is a fictional yet realistic account of a young Dominican pitcher from the town of San Pedro de Macoris who receives a contract to try out for a fictional major league franchise. Things don't go as planned, as they don't for over 99% of all players who sign contracts to play in the the league, but the character, named Miguel "Sugar" Santos, shows a resiliency that is true to form for many of these cats whose dreams don't come true.

We go from the poverty-stricken streets of the DR to a small Midwestern town with a bunch of Dominican hopefuls looking to emulate their heroes, having to navigate a world they don't understand and who doesn't understand them.

One of the most heart-breaking episodes occurs when the character's girlfriend refuses to take any more of his calls when she finds out he's left the team, and he is now left by himself to re-direct his focus after doing nothing his whole life but play baseball. Both films offer unsentimental looks at the cut-throat world of professional sports as it's practiced in Latin America, and they are highly recommended. Both are excellent, entertaining and well-done films.

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